Research links huntingtin to neurogenesis

Aug 11, 2010

New research finds that a protein that is often mutated in Huntington's disease (HD) plays an unexpected role in the process of neurogenesis. The research, published by Cell Press in the August 12 issue of the journal Neuron, provides new insight into HD pathology and has even broader implications for human health and disease.

HD is an inherited neurodegenerative disease that causes uncontrolled movements, emotional disturbances, and severe . Previous research has demonstrated that abnormal (htt) is associated with HD pathology. "Given the predominant neurological signs and striking neuronal death in HD, most studies on htt function have focused on adult neurons," explains senior study author, Dr. Sandrine Humbert from the Institut Curie in Orsay, France. "However, although htt is not restricted to differentiated neurons and is found at high levels in dividing cells, no studies have investigated a possible role for htt during cell division."

Cell division, known as mitosis, is the process where a single cell divides into two new but identical daughter cells. It is a complex and highly regulated sequence of events that occurs in a series of well-defined stages. One key step of mitosis involves the assembly and orientation of a structure called the "mitotic spindle." During mitosis, the proteins and dynactin must interact with the spindle. Because htt is known to facilitate dynein/dynactin activity, Dr. Humbert's group investigated whether htt played a functional role during mitosis.

The researchers discovered that htt was specifically localized to the mitotic spindle during mitosis in mouse neurons and that htt was required for recruitment of dynein/dynactin to the spindle. Importantly, interference with htt led to misorientation of the spindle in both mice and flies. The researchers went on to show that htt was critical for both and cell fate determination. "Our findings demonstrate a previously unknown function for htt protein and open new lines of investigation for elucidating the pathogenic mechanisms in HD," concludes Dr. Humbert. "Our work also identifies htt as a crucial part of spindle orientation and neurogenesis."

Explore further: Researchers unlock mystery of skin's sensory abilities

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Protecting the brain from a deadly genetic disease

Feb 23, 2010

Huntington's disease (HD) is a cruel, hereditary condition that leads to severe physical and mental deterioration, psychiatric problems and eventually, death. Currently, there are no treatments to slow down or stop it. ...

Scientists deconstruct cell division

Feb 08, 2009

The last step of the cell cycle is the brief but spectacularly dynamic and complicated mitosis phase, which leads to the duplication of one mother cell into two daughter cells. In mitosis, the chromosomes ...

Recommended for you

Researchers unlock mystery of skin's sensory abilities

16 hours ago

Humans' ability to detect the direction of movement of stimuli in their sensory world is critical to survival. Much of this stimuli detection comes from sight and sound, but little is known about how the ...

Tackling neurotransmission precision

Dec 18, 2014

Behind all motor, sensory and memory functions, calcium ions are in the brain, making those functions possible. Yet neuroscientists do not entirely understand how fast calcium ions reach their targets inside ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.